We’ve hinted at our current big salvage project, and some of you may have seen activity downtown at Washington and Clinton. Here’s the scoop on what ReUse Action’s salvage team is up to:
The Lafayette, Buffalo’s Most Palatial Hotel . . . Absolutely Fireproof . . . European Plan . . . 300 Rooms . . . Designed by the first female professional architect in the US, Louise Blanchard Bethune.
Opened in 1904, every room featured hot and cold water and a telephone. Built in the French Renaissance style, befitting its name, Lafayette, after the French general who fought in America’s Revolution. Much of the main floor was redone in the 1920’s in the Art Deco style. Located on one of Buffalo’s earliest public spaces, formerly Courthouse Square, used for public gatherings since 1816, before Buffalo became a city.
Developer Rocco Termini will convert the 448-room hotel into a mixed used building, with a small hotel, apartments, several restaurants and some retail space. The first floor will retain many of its features – check-in desk, brass-covered elevators, tile and stone floors, ornate plaster details, several large public rooms, lots of turn of the (19th/20th) century and later Art Deco styling. The upper floors will be gutted to make room for modern hotel rooms and small apartments. These rooms contain porcelain bathtubs, radiators, solid wood doors, baseboard molding, sinks, “subway tile” and other fixtures.
ReUse Action is handling the heavy lifting of removing, organizing and storing the salvageable items. We’re partnering with Demolition Depot, a New York City antique dealer. Together, we’ve purchased the items from the building owner and will be working to make them available for sale.
With this large project, ReUse Action is accomplishing several goals. First, we’ll make a profit on the work – at this point one of our specialties is the recovery and handling of this type of material. Second, we’ll put our crew to work and increase their job skills in an area of business, salvage and deconstruction, that is steadily increasing in Western New York and particularly in Buffalo. Third, this is preservation of a kind – in quite a few cases, even material as valuable and authentic as this ends up in the landfill. Very little of it will be reused on site in the new development, and the local market would only be able to absorb a fraction of the large quantity of material. So these historic items will be available for sale around the country and indeed around the world and will continue to serve their mundane purposes a plumbing and heating fixtures while providing some real “history” for their new owners.
PS: Steve Watson at the News did a quick article for Friday’s paper: Tubs awash with new life.